When music files are “crippled by design”

See this fascinating blog post from the web site BoingBoing.

Movie/record industry rep says that you shouldn’t expect to be able to play your media for as long as you own it:

Glyn sez, “Buying DRMed content, then having that content stop working later is fair writes Steven Metalitz, the lawyer who represents the MPAA, RIAA in a letter to the top legal advisor at the Copyright Office.”

“We reject the view,” he writes in a letter to the top legal advisor at the Copyright Office, “that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works. No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards. No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity, and there is no reason that any particular mode of distributing copyrighted works should be required to do so.”

This is, of course, true, but that doesn’t make it any less weird. The only reason that such tracks are crippled after authentication servers go down is because of a system that was demanded by content owners and imposed on companies like Wal-Mart and Apple; buyers who grudgingly bought tracks online because it was easy accepted, but never desired the DRM. To simply say that they are “out of luck” because they used a system that the rightsholders demanded is the height of callousness to one’s customers. While computers and electronics devices do break down over time, these music tracks were crippled by design.

I’ve got 78RPM records from my grandparents’ basement that play just fine today — and I’ve got Logo programs I wrote in 1979 that I can run today. I own a piano roll from 1903 that I can play back if I can clear the space for a player piano. I’ve got books printed in the 17th century that can still be read — and if they can’t be read, they can be scanned and the scans can be read. This is what an open format means.

It’s hilarious that the same yahoos who argue for perpetual copyright (implying that copyrighted works have value forever) also argue for time-limited ownership (implying that people who buy copyrighted works should be content to enjoy them for a few weeks or years until the DRM stops working).

Remember: when you buy DRM, you really rent, until such time as the DRM company goes bust or changes its mind. When you buy DRM-free, you get something your great-grandkids can enjoy.

8 comments ↓

#1 Simon on 07.30.09 at 9:49 am

Any danger of you lot changing the law so people can legally transfer their CDs to MP3 players.

I’d love to know how many MPs iPods have illegal content. Maybe Yates of the Yard could investigate now he’s decided (in 3 minutes) that there’s no more to the Coulson case.

#2 DRM "cripples music by design" | Tom Watson MP | Wildtonemusic on 07.30.09 at 11:01 am

[...] the original here: DRM "cripples music by design" | Tom Watson MP Posted in Talk About Music | July 30th, 2009 Leave a [...]

#3 Open Rights Group Newsblog : Blog Archive » Tom Watson MP ‘when you buy DRM, you really rent’ on 07.30.09 at 1:38 pm

[...] Source: Tom Watson MP [...]

#4 ???? on 07.31.09 at 2:56 am

I just want my pure music back!

#5 Peter Judge on 07.31.09 at 10:42 am

Careful Tom

You’re quoting a Cory Doctorow post here, but in such a way that it looks like your words.

#6 Brad on 07.31.09 at 2:07 pm

When I went to the NHS Drs. office last week, I was saddened to see music licensing propaganda pasted over all the walls. It appears the NHS is being charged for ‘public performances’ of music in the waiting room.

It would make more sense if the NHS charged the music corporations for promoting music company products to a captive audience in a publicly funded setting.

Who negotiates this stuff? How do I get my promos played in NHS offices? I’m sure I can negotiate a much lower fee than the music corporations! I’d like to offer my entire audio visual output to all UK government offices, in perpetuity, for a mere £250. This includes any new content I produce. What do you say? You can take it out of the budget for infant intensive care. It’s like 1 heart monitor. C’mon.

#7 Land of the lake on 08.01.09 at 10:16 am

Can you imagine if vinyl records had been designed to break up after a few years, by making them of bio-degradable plastic ??

Indeed, CDs are nowhere near as long lasting as we were initally conned, sorry, ‘led to believe’…

What are you doing these days Tom ? Repenting in your sackcloth and ashes ? Maybe the passing of Sir Bobby Robson will mean you will take a look back at your own life and start wondering what your own obit will look like..

#8 Is the Internet really changing politics? / we are social on 12.17.09 at 6:59 pm

[...] first blogging politicians and in his post-ministerial career, leading campaigner for digital rights and the gaming industry. Though the next election will still rely heavily on broadcast media, he [...]

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